TRUDY AND HERB by Ray Flynt

 

                                                Since retiring, my husband kept the same morning routine. Herb would amble                                                     from the bedroom around 8:30 a.m. wearing plaid boxer shorts and a ten-year-                                                   old wife beater with sweat stains under the armpits that defied detergent. He’d                                                   plop down at the table, greet me with a where’s-my-breakfast glare, and thumb                                                 through the newspaper hunting the daily crossword puzzle.                 

                                                     Frankly, I missed the days when Herb jumped out of bed at five, left me                                                         undisturbed, and grabbed a bagel on the way to work.

                                                     “Herb, you never talk to me,” I whined.

                                                     Silence.

                                                     Without looking up from his puzzle, Herb blurted out, “Recondite.”

    “Excuse me?”

    “Seven letters. Second one’s a B.”

    “How the hell am I supposed to know some obscure word?” I said.

    “That’s it,” he shouted. “Obscure!” I hadn’t seen him that excited since our wedding night.

     To thank me, he shoved his empty coffee cup in my direction.

     “We’re out of coffee,” I informed him. “How ‘bout a Colt 45 malt liquor?”

     His eyes brightened until I said I was being facetious.

     “I put coffee on that shopping list I handed you three days ago,” I chided him. “If you’d done as I asked, there’d be plenty of coffee.”

     He merely shrugged.

     Whenever I confided to my sister, Joan would say, “Trudy, I advised you not to marry him forty-five years ago.”

     How could I know Joan had the power of prophecy? She ended our conversations with, “Pray about it.”

     Oh how I prayed.

     Then a few Sundays ago, Pastor Jeff gave a sermon based on 1 Corinthians, chapter 15, verse 55. O death, where is thy sting. It gave me an idea. As I exited the church that morning I told Jeff, “I’ve been praying for God’s help.”

Pastor clasped me by the elbow and said, “God helps those who help themselves.” I nodded. That’s exactly what I intended to do.

     Herb belched. It was time to call my sister and put my plan in motion.

     After a few minutes of small talk I told Joan, in a voice loud enough to draw Herb’s attention, “I spotted a swarm of bees this morning in the snapdragons just outside our kitchen window.”

     Herb glanced up from the crossword puzzle, a twinge of apprehension in his eyes.

     “You’re right, Joan. I hope they stay outside. You know how allergic Herb is. I added an EpiPen to his shopping list, since we’re all out.” I neglected to mention that I’d destroyed the only one we had. “Oh no!” I shrieked, “One’s buzzing around Herb. I gotta go.” I ended the call.

     Herb bolted upright looking first left, then right.

     That’s when I jabbed him in the left shoulder with the syringe of bee serum. He slapped his hand over the spot, rubbing it. Herb’s eyes widened like he’d just seen a purple jackalope lumbering through the kitchen. His body convulsed. It all happened so fast.

 

According to the coroner, death was from anaphylactic shock. I credited the power of prayer.